I am driven to build communities that support our aging population

Marilyn Bruin’s passion is to see aging people live the way they want to live and to find ways to use public resources to accomplish that. Research that would help craft policies is often ignored.

Marilyn Bruin
“My work … is designed to measure the gap between what’s being planned and what’s being expected.” Marilyn Bruin, Professor Click to tweet

Bruin says that baby boomers as a whole must do more to plan for their retirements. Current projections show a dwindling number of younger people available to support our growing elder population.

Saving money isn’t the only challenge; retirement planning also involves finding or developing living arrangements that meet retirees’ needs. Sometimes, homes will have to be modified to reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries.

Also, racial and other disparities in housing must be eliminated. This will mean not only enforcing anti-discrimination policies, but changing nursing home practices to align with non-Western cultures.

Seniors face eroding base of caregivers

The percentage of seniors is expected to rise 54% between 2010 and 2040, while the percentage of wage earners drops 10%, a trend that means fewer working people supporting each boomer.

Boomers: 65+ Wage earners: ages 20 to 64 2010 2040

Doing it right: the age-friendly home

People age, but homes don’t keep up with them—unless they’re designed for it. Many homeowners will need age-friendly features, but few know how to modify their homes or what technologies are available to increase their safety and convenience.

“Imagine how much injury—and wear and tear on your body—you could prevent by designing homes to eliminate trip hazards,” says Bruin.

Image of home entryway with markers over the door and outdoor-facing window


  1. Well lit, covered, with a shelf for packages and level threshold
  2. Well-lit exterior, level walkways, neat landscaping
Image of bathroom with markers over the toilet, sink, and floor


  1. Longer, taller toilet
  2. Wall-mounted sink, faucets with sensors, tilting mirror
  3. No bathmats/rugs on floor; 5' sufficient turning space for wheelchairs
Image of a kitchen with markers over the chair, drawers, and cabinets


  1. Chair on rollers, no cabinets under sink
  2. Drawer-style microwaves, dishwashers; French-door refrigerators with freezers on bottom
Image of bedroom with markers over wall, bed, and pole with handhold


  1. Emergency window with deep ledge
  2. Bench at foot of bed
  3. Pole with sturdy handhold, plus motion-sensor light
Image of open living space with markers over floor, chair, and lighting

Open living spaces

  1. Good task lighting; automatic lighting
  2. Level floors, wide passages and room openings, long sightlines
  3. Comfortable, stable furniture with firm support, strong armrests
“My core, my driver, is that we make better use of our public resources so that they meet people’s needs, whatever they are.” Marilyn Bruin, Professor Click to tweet